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Del Mar bound!

Jul 22, 2003 6:56 AM

When I was a kid I used to count the days until Christmas; now, I count the days until Del Mar opens.

Well, the countdown is over and it’s time to leave the incendiary Las Vegas heat and visit my favorite track by the sea.

There’s something magical about Del Mar ”” the picturesque racetrack, the ocean trade winds, the most beautiful women, great restaurants and by far the greatest weather anywhere.

Let’s not forget the great betting opportunities at the pari-mutuel windows. The race managers in Las Vegas certainly haven’t forgotten.

"We’re looking forward to Del Mar ”” it always creates a lot of excitement with top racing, the big fields and good prices," said Bill Abernathy, race manager at the Palms. "We think our new Del Mar jockey contest will also be a lot of fun, and hope it stays close until the end of the meet."

The Palms contest requires picking which jockey will win the riding title for the Del Mar meet. The opening odds are on page 4, and they are Âí­adjusted as the meet advances.

Jockey Odds

P. Valenzuela 2-1

A. Solis 5-2

V. Espinoza 9-2

K. Desormeaux 8-1

D. Flores 12-1

C. Nakatani 12-1

M. Smith 12-1

T. Baze 15-1

G. Stevens 18-1

M. Pedroza 50-1

O. Berrio 175-1

J. Valdivia 175-1

I. Puglisi 200-1

M. Garcia 750-1

J. Krone 1000-1

 

As you can see, there could be some healthy prices if one of the longshot jockeys wins it all.

Also at the Palms, the racebook is giving away a Del Mar cap with every jockey future bet of $25 or more.

At the beautiful MonteLago sports book, players can also bet which jockey will win the riding title at both Del Mar and Saratoga. Give manager Rob Terch a call for all the details.

Not to be outdone, Station Casinos has agreed to extend its highly-popular handicapping contest to the Del Mar meet, which kicks off Wednesday.

The weekly (Wednesday) contest, which typically attracts between 500 and 700 entrants, requires picking winners, but pays a nice consolation for in-the-money selections.

Incidentally, if you haven’t been in Palace Station for awhile, they’re in the midst of a large-scale remodeling effort. When completed, the race book will feature new furnishings and 92 individual TV monitors at each seat.

Another great contest that carries over to Del Mar is the Winner & Quinella contest at Mandalay Resort properties. The contest tests players’ ability to not only pick the winner, but pick the quinella (second place horse) as well.

The contest is featured at different Mandalay properties on different days: Excalibur on Wednesday, Monte Carlo on Thursday, Circus Circus on Friday, and Luxor on Saturday.

In addition to paying first through tenth place, the Mandalay contest awards a bonus twin-Q (pick the quinella in two races) progressive that starts at $1,000 and continues until hit.

Probably, the granddaddy of race contests will occur at Bally’s during the first weekend in August. The contest requires a $1,000 entry fee, but will pay off big for the winner: a possible $10,000 the first day; $10,000 the second day; and $75,000 for the two-day contest.

"We have had such a huge turnout, we’re moving the contest to our Champagne Ballroom," said Chris Eggers, race and sports manager at Bally’s/Paris. "The contest comes at a great time, coinciding with the opening of Del Mar."

This season, the New Frontier throws its silky cap into the contest ring with a head-to-head jockey contest.

The New Frontier’s Jockey Challenge requires players to pick one of two teams at both Del Mar and Saratoga.

The teams, consisting of four jockeys on each, can be bet at odds beginning at —105 in head-to-head action with its corresponding counterpart.

Scoring will be based on total jockey wins for the meet.

Well, that’ a recap of how Las Vegas race books are gearing up for Del Mar. I hate to leave, but I’ll return next week. Maybe I’ll see some fellow Vegans down by the sea. If so, stop by and give me your best bet!